BHUBANESWAR: Former minister and senior BJD leader Bijayshree Routray passed away at a private hospital here on Wednesday due to post-Covid complications. He was 67.
Routray had tested Covid positive on May 4 and was shifted to hospital on May 5. He breathed his last while undergoing treatment.
His untimely death has sent shock waves across political divide, his followers and people who came in contact with him. A lovable person, people close to him called him Babuli babu. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also used to affectionately address him as Babuli babu.
Son of former chief minister Nilamani Routray, he made his political debut from Basudevpur Assembly constituency in 1990 as a Janata Dal member. He never looked back and won from the constituency twice as a Janata Dal candidate and then as a BJD candidate consecutively till 2014. He did not contest the 2019 Assembly elections.
He served in various capacities as tourism and culture, health and family welfare, revenue and disaster management and forest and environment minister, in the Naveen Patnaik government. He was also a senior vice-president of the BJD.
A voracious reader, Routray also had a passion for stamp collection. He played a crucial role in the formation of the Eastern India Philatelic Association in 1998 and was its president in 2012. He had a collection of more than one lakh stamps. Routray loved gardening and he was also an ardent nature lover.
Describing Routray as a popular leader, the Chief Minister said in his condolence message that he was liked by all cutting across party lines. Stating that Routray had worked as a minister of several departments with distinction, Naveen said his death is a great loss. He spoke to his son, Bishnubrata Routray, BJD MLA from Basudevpur, over telephone and consoled him.
Condoling his death, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said his contribution to improve the functioning of different departments will always be remembered. National vice-president of BJP Baijayant Panda, OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik and other political leaders expressed deep grief over his death.